Verkliga vardagssammanhang i årskurs 4 eller kontextlös kunskap i årskurs 8? Everyday life context in grade 4 or knowledge without context in grade 8
International comparisons of students’ knowledge as TIMSS and PISA have shown that Swedish students' knowledge of science deteriorated during the 2000s, compared to both previous years and to other countries. In grade 4, however, the results improved between 2007 and 2011 and Sweden is one of the countries showing the greatest difference between the results in grade 4 and grade 8, suggesting a weak knowledge development in science between these grades.
This study compares Swedish pupils' results for individual tasks in Science in TIMSS 2011 with an average score of countries in the EU or OECD. The items are classified by whether they are put in a context and if they ask for school specific knowledge or if they could be solved with knowledge from sources outside school. A large proportion of the items in grade 4 is linked to a context and to students' everyday lives, which explains the good results for the younger students. Few items in grade 8 are of interest for the students or linked to students' daily lives and on these items Swedish students often perform below average for the EU / OECD, which contributes to the less favorable outcome in grade 8. The weak development of knowledge between grades 4 and 8 that is indicated by TIMSS suggests that the formalized science classes in school do not reach the students and it points to the need for a clearer connection to students' interests and experiences.
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